Men’s team hopes to continue success

After netting 23 wins and advancing to the second round of the NCAA Tournament, Tech will be looking to repeat last season’s success and remain a contender in the ACC. But with the early departures of Derrick Favors and Gani Lawal, the top scorers from last year’s team, Tech has many questions to answer. Last season, the 6-foot-10 Favors and 6-foot-9 Lawal combined to give Tech one of the biggest lineups in the entire ACC. Tech used its size to its advantage by giving the ball to Favors and Lawal in the post as much as possible, allowing them to physically wear down opponents over the course of a game. This season, Tech will not have that option as no player taller than 6-foot-6 on Tech’s roster has played in a college game.
To make up for the loss of Favors and Lawal, Head Coach Paul Hewitt has created a new offensive system for his 11th season as head coach. Similar to the offense that Jay Wright runs at Villanova, Tech will essentially play with four guards out on the floor. Hewitt made this decision in order to utilize the valuable experience in his backcourt and also compensate for the overall lack of size. In this offense, the four guards will be positioned out on the perimeter and the lone post player will be located near the paint.
In preparation for the new offensive scheme, the team has had a rigorous workout regimen during the preseason. A few days each week, the players ran a series of timed sprints at the campus track. In Tech’s fast break offense, the guards will be constantly making cuts to the basket and rotating the ball around the floor as they try to outrun opponents. In addition, many picks will be set on opposing players that should create mismatches due to Tech’s smaller players. These mismatches should make it easier to get long-range shots off since bigger defenders will not want to come out to the perimeter. Spacing near the perimeter will be key since Tech has a plethora of talented shooters that can make 3-pointers.
Tech will rely on the performance of the backcourt because the guards play a central role in the offense. Among the expected starters are senior point guard Maurice Miller, junior shooting guard Iman Shumpert, sophomore small forward Brian Oliver and sophomore shooting guard Glen Rice Jr. The 6-foot-5 Shumpert will be expected to lead the guards and thrive in this up-tempo offense with his athleticism and defensive instincts. Shumpert averaged 10 points and four assists last season but will be asked to increase his scoring with the departure of key players. The 6-foot-6 Oliver will also be a very significant player in this offense since he is considered to be the team’s biggest three-point threat as he shot 38 percent from three-point range last season. Oliver, who averaged 7.1 points last year, will most likely play the number four position and will therefore be expected to capitalize on mismatches. Rice will be expected to utilize his athletic 6-foot-5 frame and slash to the basket to create room for the offense, while the 6-foot-2 Miller will be used as a facilitator and reliable ball handler.
Rounding out the backcourt is sophomore point guard Mfon Udofia, senior shooting guard Lance Storrs, freshman small forward Jason Morris and junior shooting guard Nick Foreman.
As previously mentioned, the frontcourt is the biggest question mark heading into this season. None of the three players making up the frontcourt, which includes redshirt freshman Daniel Miller, redshirt freshman Kammeon Holsey and freshman Nate Hicks, have played in a single college game. To help ease the learning curve of these three players, Hewitt will only play one of them at a time at the post position. The 6-foot-11 Miller is the likely starter after he spent a year learning from Favors and Lawal during his redshirt year. The 6-foot-8 Holsey, who was injured all last year, and the 6-foot-10 Hicks will most likely be asked to come off the bench when players get into foul trouble.
One major concern is how long it will take the players to adjust to the new offense. Unfortunately, some frontcourt players have already missed practice time recovering from injuries that could put them at a disadvantage. Luckily the team will have a group of talented and experienced backcourt players to lean on early in the season.


Comments are closed.